How to fit cheap kitchen worktops
January 27, 2020
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January 27, 2020
Kitchen worktops come in many shapes and sizes – and costs. At the top of the price range, you can easily pay above £200/m (at 600mm deep) for a composite or solid wood worktop. The good news is that for those of us on tighter budgets, you can pick up a cheap worktop for around £25 – £50/m – and even better, you don’t have to compromise too much on style.
The best option for those wanting a fresh look for their worktops without resorting to spending a fortune is laminate. Laminate worktops are a composite consisting of a particle board inner core surrounded by a heat applied, waterproof resin coating which can take on the appearance of stone, timber or, indeed, anything else. Formica is the most common type of laminate worktop. Edging details can be bevelled, rounded or square, and the overall appearance can be highly effective.
While laminate is reasonably stain and heat resistant, it gets damaged by scratches, so needs careful use. That said, almost all worktops have their weaknesses, so if you’re in the market for a cheap and easy new worktop, laminate is a good choice.
Worktops are usually sold in either 2m or 3m lengths at a typical depth of 600mm. You can buy a cheap laminate worktop from the likes of B&Q, Wickes or IKEA (who sell worktops at a depth of 630mm) for as little as £20/m (linear), with a lot more choice coming to those willing to pay £50/m. For a typical kitchen with 5m worktop length, this means a total spend of between £100 – £250.
The big DIY sheds such as B&Q and Wickes are experienced sellers of laminate kitchen worktop. IKEA laminate kitchen worktops are good value but are slightly deeper than standard so may require cutting. There are also a range of online retailers who specialise in laminate and solid wood worktops.
It is also possible to buy slight seconds worktops online at eBay, and many homeowners try to sell off old worktops when they refit their kitchens. While there is a chance of picking up a bargain, worktops are often damaged by removal and, of course, they tend to rarely come in lengths sufficient for the new cutting required by new positions of hobs and sinks.
Cheap kitchen worktops tend to be laminate which, while it gives the appearance of either granite, slate or timber doesn’t actually consist of those materials. The core of the worktop is a particle board and can be fairly lightweight – which is a good thing for fitting but lacks the feeling of quality of the solid materials. Solid laminate worktops tend to be thinner and work well in contemporary settings and are considered more durable than regular laminate.
The key difference is in the solidity of the material, the durability of the worktop and the authenticity of the look. Granite, which is still a hugely popular choice, is typically five times the price of laminate but what you get is a solid worktop, highly durable (almost completely resistant to heat and stains) and a natural, attractive finish. Laminate is likely to need replacing more quickly than virtually any other worktop with the possible exception of solid timber (which, if not treated well, can stain easily).
Fitting kitchen worktops is not an easy job for a DIYer. While some elements are straightforward – particularly cutting the worktop to fit, joining to another worktop and applying finishing strips – it gets complicated when you have to start cutting out elements for sinks and hobs. Most DIYers won’t have access to the jigs required.
In most cases, therefore, it makes sense to employ a professional kitchen fitter or local joiner to fit your worktop for you. It shouldn’t take too long – typically 1-1.5 days – and will, therefore, cost, depending on where you live in the UK, somewhere between £200 – £400.
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